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Ex-chief coach Hawgood returns, Van Gent to join men’s team

New Delhi :A former chief coach of the Indian women’s hockey team, Neil Hawgood was today appointed as an assistant coach while Dutchman Roger van Gent is set to join the men’s team as a strategy coach ahead of next year’s Rio Olympics.

Hawgood served as Indian women’s hockey team’s chief coach for a period of more than two years, but the Australian will now return back to the country in a much lower profile. He will assist current chief coach Mathias Ahrens.

A top Sports Authority of India (SAI) also official confirmed that Roger Van Gent will soon join the men’s team as a strategy coach and will assist chief coach and Hockey India High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans in the run up to the Olympics.

“Yes, we have cleared a Dutchman’s name for the men’s team. He will assist Roelant Oltmans and will soon join the team,” the official told PTI.

HI, on its part, today confirmed the appointment of Hawgood.

“We are happy to have Neil Hawgood back with us on board as a coach for the Indian Women’s hockey program. Under Neil’s able leadership, the Indian women’s hockey team had progressed extremely well in the last two-and-half years and we look forward to a similar and much enhanced result in Indian hockey team’s ranking and performance,” Hockey India President Narinder Batra said.

Hawgood, who coached the Indian women’s squad since July 2012 till November 2014, enjoyed quite a good stint with the side having led the girls to the bronze medal in the 2013 junior World Cup.

Under Hawgood’s leadership, the Indian women’s team showed a lot of progress. India won the bronze in the 17th Asian Games at Incheon, South Korea beside first-ever bronze medal in the junior World Cup.

But Hawgood’s sudden resignation, which came on the heels of fellow Australian Terry Walsh’s unceremonious ouster, without citing any reason created quite a few murmurs within the hockey circles.

Hawgood, who left India to work as a consultant with the Malaysian Hockey Confederation (MHC), will be contracted till next year’s Rio Olympics.

He played in seven games, scoring five goals, as the Australian team finished in fourth position.

“Working with the Indian women’s hockey team has been a great experience. I am extremely proud of their performance and am glad that they secured a spot for themselves for the Rio Olympics 2016.

It’s their hard work that has brought them here, and I hope to add value to them and take them to the next level which they and this nation aspires to see them in,” Hawgood, who had represented Australian hockey team from 1985-1991, said about his current appointment.

It was during Hawgood’s regime that the team won the Hockey World League Round 2 in 2013, silver in the Asian Champions Trophy and also bagged the fifth position at 2014 Commonwealth Games.

Currently ranked 13th in the world, the Indian women’s hockey team has qualified for Olympics after a long gap of 36 years.